Senators object to House spectrum bill


A bipartisan quartet of US senators has fired off a letter to Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that objects to certain elements in the House bill that would authorize incentive auctions in the television space, among other things. A major sticking point is the failure of the House to leave enough room for unlicensed devices. The contentious issue of network neutrality, which is attacked in an amendment to the House bill, went unmentioned.

The group includes John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

They said that opening spectrum in the television band to unlicensed devices was a great innovation incubator, and that it shouldn’t be shut down just to proved a few extra dollars of deficit reduction.
They also objected to constraints placed on the FCC for a number of reasons. They felt the FCC should be free to carefully design the auction process, with the ability to set eligibility requirements.

They also noted that the FCC needed fluidity, not a premature congressional prescription, when dealing with the highly fluid and rapidly developing technology covered in this area of the nation’s infrastructure.

The quartet summarized, “Modernizing our nation’s radio spectrum planning, management, and coordination activities to better meet the future spectrum needs of all users is a difficult undertaking which deals with very complex issues that demand flexibility. We must suppress our desire to be overly prescriptive to derive some predetermined outcome and because of the ever-changing landscape allow the FCC to set the proper course, over the long-term, to maximize the full economic and social benefit that wireless spectrum offers.”

RBR-TVBR observation: So it looks like the House and Senate are going to have difficulty reconciling their spectrum approaches, even without throwing in the net neutrality sideshow tossed in by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and called a poison pill by Henry Waxman (D-CA). We’d guess this is an issue that is still a long way from being settled on Capitol Hill, much less at the FCC and in the court system.